Qureshi R. et al.
Recent work showed that the dominant post-menopausal estrogen, estrone, cooperates with nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) to stimulate inflammation, while pre-menopausal 17β-estradiol opposes NF-κB. Here, we show that post-menopausal estrone, but not 17β-estradiol, activates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) genes to stimulate breast cancer metastasis. HSD17B14, which converts 17β-estradiol to estrone, is higher in cancer than normal breast tissue and in metastatic than primary cancers and associates with earlier metastasis. Treatment with estrone, but not 17β-estradiol, and HSD17B14 overexpression both stimulate an EMT, matrigel invasion, and lung, bone, and liver metastasis in estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer models, while HSD17B14 knockdown reverses the EMT. Estrone:ERα recruits CBP/p300 to the SNAI2 promoter to induce SNAI2 and stimulate an EMT, while 17β-estradiol:ERα recruits co-repressors HDAC1 and NCOR1 to this site. Present work reveals novel differences in gene regulation by these estrogens and the importance of estrone to ER+ breast cancer progression. Upon loss of 17β-estradiol at menopause, estrone-liganded ERα would promote ER+ breast cancer invasion and metastasis.